FARMINGTON – Interim Superintendent Monique Poulin presented the proposed RSU 9 school budget draft to board members on Tuesday night.
First and foremost on the goals for the proposed budget was health and safety for the RSU 9 community.
“Our top priority is for the health and safety of the entire RSU 9 community. That has been our focus all this year and will continue to be going forward,” said Poulin.
The next top priority is to increase the amount of students on site, while remaining within the state’s approved safety guidelines.
The district is trying to avoid a cliff by covering too many costs under the COVID-19 grant money that will then have to be shifted to the local budget in coming years.
“[We’re] trying to avoid a cliff by putting too many things into grants that we might need to pick up again in two to three years.” said Poulin.
In total RSU 9 is requesting $2,711,689 from the towns within the district. This is an increase of $380,925 from the previous year.
Part of this increase includes staff salaries and ed tech positions that include benefit packages.
“It’s been difficult to maintain ed techs in those positions, they end up becoming oriented to our buildings and then transitioning to different schools in order to access budgets,” said Poulin
The state contributes 66.86 percent of the budget while 33.14 percent must be raised in order to receive that state contribution.
State funding has decreased slightly as a result of the lower enrolment numbers which currently has a two year average loss of 109 students.
The increase in the draft budget will result in an average local tax increase of 2.91 percent. The actual percent will vary from town to town. Board Member Doug Dunlap thought at first glance these numbers might suggest a large increase, but thought the actual dollar amounts were modest.
“9 of 10 of our communities have under a $40,000 increase. I think that’s important information to place before the public,” said Dunlap. “When I moved back [from the percatanges] I realized the dollar amounts are perhaps more modest than the percentages might suggest.”
Betsy Hyde motioned that the proposed budget should be sent out to the community for input questions and answers. The motion passed unanimously.
More details will be posted to the Mt. Blue website regarding budget details.
The community forum is next Tuesday, April 6 where the same information will be presented.